I must admit that I never dreamed of coming to Jogja. For years, I have dreamed of studying law at Universitas Indonesia but then UGM entrance test came earliest –and I got in. My moving to the city was initially intended to simply get my undergraduate degree and come back to Jakarta. Another thing was to actually try what it would be like to live alone. Little did I know that I would be experiencing so much more.
I flew to Jogja in 2005 with my heart racing fast. It was exciting but also made me pretty nervous. Entering the city for the first time in my life, I imagined that Jogja would be a very traditional province where its people would be very devouted towards the Keraton and Javanese culture.
Not that such notion isnt true. But what I had in mind was everyone wearing beskap and blangkon and kebaya, and every once in a while we would see someone randomly dancing in the streets “merely to internally explore the fascinating feel of art in their soul”. Of course that was not true. But the aura of traditional values in the people was strong –certainly, I mean the locals (as there are also a huge amount of migrants from other parts of Indonesia studying or working here).
During my early years in Jogja, I spent four years living in a koskosan in Sendowo which was walking distance from campus. It was a nice place where I lived with nine other guys. It didn’t end up nice throughout the end, however, thus I chose to move away to kontrakan Cacat Asmara around mid-2009.
There was a funny experience I had in my early days. I was walking home from a cornershop, when a becak was passing by. Then the guy waved his hand to me –or so I thought—so I waved back thinking “aww, people here are really kind”. Then I found out that he waved not as a kind gesture to me, but as a sign that he was about to make a turn just ahead.
My inability to speak Javanese has always been a joke, but the best experience I had was my first encounter with the language. One evening, sometime before class starts, I was waiting for a bus when two middle-aged guys approached me. They seemed very tired and confused, and asked me what bus to take to get to the Giwangan Bus Station. It was not until months later did I understand what they said. At the time, they panicly asked me that question but in krama inggil –the highest level of polite javanese. In the following years, I am already accustomed to respond with “maaf saya belum pinter bahasa jawanya. Bahasa indonesia aja ya Pak/Bu/Mas/Mbak” (I dont speak Javanese, perhaps Indonesian s’il vous plait?). But at that time, it was my first time and I panicked. This was my response:
“Im really sorry, Sir, I really want to help you but I dont understand the local dialect in this city and I have no idea what you are saying, could you please ask that guy over there?”
Yes, ladies and gentlemen, I spoke in ENGLISH. To this date, I still have no friggin idea why the hell I did that. The two men then looked a bit terrified and went on like “Sori Mister Sori Thenk yu”, then went to ask another person passing by. Many ridiculous things like this has happened during my life in Jogja. The legend continues for seven years.
Daerah Istimewa Yogyakarta is not just legally special in its governance system. There is something about this city that brings a different emotion to the air, that I really loved living there. This place did not only give me formal knowledge from campus, but it has given me something else. It gave me friends, family, so much experiences, career as well as networking, which I know I will be enjoying them until many many years ahead.
A very significant part of my life there can not be separated from romance. I have dated twice while I studied there, and each of them gave very huge impacts to my life. First it was with KEJ (2 years) whom I met through Jogja Debating Forum, and the second was with ARK (2.5 years) whom I met in Komunitas Model United Nations UGM.
I will not give full stories, as this blog would not be the best avenue for that. It will suffice for me to say that we, as almost all relationships go, underwent lots of ups and downs along the way. The length of time of those relationships were not short. They had to end, but then I (and certainly they too) walked away with so much more life experiences out of all the mistakes and the stupidities that we might have done. I still keep some items from these relationships. Not that I feel attached to any (or both) of them, but perhaps it serves as a symbolic gesture for me that I really cherrish those memories.
Another important aspect of my life in Jogja was staying alive. Food was excellent! There were so many (cheap) eating places to go to, with such a wide variety. I had burjos which sounds Mexican but is actually mostly Sundanese, selling: noodles, rice with eggs or sardines, and a variety of sachet drinks, available for 24 hours a day. I also had angkringans, selling ridiculously cheap snacks and ginger drinks, a nice place to hang out at night times. Then there were ramesans and penyetans. During my last year in Jogja, I started to like street-gudeg. It was very unfortunate that this high-in-carbohydrate meal is mostly only available at midnight.
The most memorable places to eat would be: ramesan behind Pasar Demangan (but the owners can f*ck themselves, Im never coming back), Popeye’s Fried Chicken (many outlets), Pasta Gio (around Monjali), Kafetaria Kopma UGM, Ikan Bakar UII (Jl. Taman Siswa), Ramesan Pogung D-5, and SS Sagan, but the best and numero uno would be penyetan Hollywood in front of Kopma UGM (opens at sunset).
Despite all that, seven years was a very long time. At the end, I had too much of everything that it was hard to choose what to eat. I was bored with the food, somehow. Good thing I have gone away now.
Other than food, transportation was a menace. During my first few years, the only thing I could drive (or ride) is a bicycle. Other than that, I must catch busses –which in Jogja, they disappear at sunset as if nobody needs to go anywhere after that time. I didnt really like that situation, especially I can not travel long distances fast enough and can not take anyone on my bicycle. Around that time, I had to rely on my friends to pick me up. Among them were girls, including Hayu Qisthi Adila, Ika Septihandayani (iko), and also others, including the tiny Agnes Puspitasari! However, motivation to learn driving a motorcycle did not come until 2008.
Sometime in 2007, I wanted to learn to ride a motorbike. Helped by James Keiyo, I used Agnes Kecil’s bike. I only tried for 5 minutes, only managing to drive in a straight line, then Agnes told me the brakes didnt work. I stopped. But a year later, I was faced with the fact that my girlfriend at the time (Khairiyah) lived in Kalasan –which the only public transport that could reach that place was the A3 bus. It is only available until 5pm, and is not quite frequent (only one bus in around 30ish minutes).
Febrian Tri Yunanta helped me learn in Fakultas Teknik, until I finally managed to drive well. Then I managed to trick Iko into believing that I am already capable of taking passangers, as I have already tried taking Febrian (who was rather big). The truth was I never took passangers before. On our way to Galeria Mall, I then admitted to her that she was my first (if I dont add “passanger”, this would sound pretty sexual hahaha) passanger. I can still recall the “uh-oh” from her sitting in the back, which followed with “I also helped another friend learning to ride a motorbike before, and took me as passanger to practice. Well, we fell a few times”. Oh man, it made me feel really guilty! Oh and if only you knew what Iko looked like, and the way she looks with her eyes, it makes me feel really guilty. But not enough to stop me trying! Hahaha.
Yet I am quite proud of my driving skills. Others complain about how slow I drive, but I dont care. My accident rate is zero percent. Never fell a single time while I am driving. Well, I have experienced people crashing into me but they never managed to bring me down. However, to this date I still do not dare to ride a motorbike in Jakarta. The way people drive here are so close to suicidal that I worry about my life expectancy shall I decide to drive.
Being able to drive, moving to live in Jl Tamansiswa in mid-2009 was not much of a problem. It was a house rented by me and a few friends from Jogja Debating Forum. Actually it was a nice place. However I had to move out by the end of 2011 as an asshole decided to not pay his rent and disappear.
The best place I lived in, however, was in Gang Bali, Jl Kaliurang KM 6.3. I lived there next to Rizky “Uki” Wirastomo, whom also recommended the place to me. The room was quite large, and the air was relatively fresh. I started living there by the start of 2012, and lived there until I departed from Jogja last September.
During my life in Jogja, there were three different realms that I lived in. First would be my life in the Physics Department. It was short, only two years, yet it meant a lot. Next would be my life in the debating world, which was the longest (covered all 7 years of my life in Jogja), and my life in the faculty of law (2007-2012), which would serve as the best finale of my story about me and Jogja.
Lecturer at the International Law Department, Fakultas Hukum, Universitas Gadjah Mada
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